Handwritten Song Lyrics Became Hot Music Gift in 2019
It’s not exactly the Tickle Me Elmo craze, but in 2019, a new trend emerged in musical gift giving that we’re likely to see more of in the coming years. It isn’t just a great way to surprise the music lover in your family with a thoughtful and cherished present, it’s a way to help sustain the independent music artists out there who otherwise have to rely on the penny fractions from streaming giants to make it through the cold hard winter when live gigs are scarce.
We’re talking about the practice by some independent musicians and songwriters to offer personally handwritten lyric sheets to many of their most cherished songs to dedicated fans that are suitable for framing and perfect for gift giving. It’s probably too late to get in on the action this Holiday season, but both buyers and sellers should put it in their memory banks for next year after 2019’s participants proved it’s worth the effort, and a worthy gift.
This practice isn’t entirely new. Sometimes in crowdfunding campaigns or charity auctions, artists will offer handwritten lyric sheets as an incentive for top tier contributors. Also, songwriters like the Grammy-nominated Mary Gauthier, as well as BJ Barham of American Aquarium have offered handwritten lyric sheets in their online stores year round. But the Christmas season 2019 is when the idea seems to have really caught on with both musicians and fans, making for a much more personal and sentimental gift for the music lover in your family compared to a concert T-shirt and a koozie.
Texas music artist Sunny Sweeney was running a campaign this year for handwritten lyrics, as was Wade Bowen. Songwriter Kaitlin Butts did as well, offering multiple options. You could pick one of her many songs, choose the song “A Life Where We Work Out” co-written and signed by her fiancee and Flatland Cavalry frontman Cleto Cordero, or as a more affordable option, you could purchase high quality prints of song lyrics of your choice. And following the Instagram feeds of these artists, business was brisk.
These efforts are not cheap, nor should they be. Prices range from $45.00 to $200.00 from some artists. Sure, it’s not especially hard to scribble some lyrics on a sheet and drop it in the mail. The daunting task would be fulfilling dozens of orders and getting them in the mail by Christmas. But the rarity of these works is what makes them special. Also, these are musicians, not pre-Gutenberg monks. It’s imperative this enterprise doesn’t eat into their writing of new songs for upcoming albums. It’s the intimacy and rarity that makes handwritten lyrics such a great idea.
And this trend is not just compartmentalized to Texas country. Well-respected heavy metal singer and guitarist Scott Ian of Anthrax got in on the action this year, as did others. Some offer the option to personally inscribe the lyrics to someone, others don’t. But they all come with signatures and/or doodles to make them little pieces of art as opposed to just a set of lyrics transcribed by the songwriter. And hey, who knows. If the career of your favorite musician with good penmanship explodes, they might end up being a quality investment for the future.
The next question is why wait for Christmas to offer this option to your loyal fans? In the streaming era, fans are hungry for something tangible. That is why vinyl is taking off again. Of course it doesn’t appeal to everyone to hang song lyrics on their wall (or to spend hours writing your own lyrics over and over). But for those fans who connect deeply with the music of their favorite artists, there may not be anything more meaningful in an era when finding meaningful gifts is hard to come by.
December 19, 2019 @ 9:21 am
I thought this was a great idea. Got missing you for my soon to be ex-wife. Just wish it would matter.
December 19, 2019 @ 9:29 am
Hope stuff works out for ya, buddy.
December 19, 2019 @ 7:42 pm
Yea, me too.
December 20, 2019 @ 8:44 am
It seems very thoughtful. I hope it means a lot to her, and best of luck.
December 19, 2019 @ 9:52 am
I know Mike McClure is another one doing it. I find the lyric sheets kind of fun to read, because it makes me realize that a good song is just poetry set to music.
December 19, 2019 @ 10:10 am
Josh Morningstar, Will Stewart also.
December 19, 2019 @ 10:13 am
The funny thing is when I emailed Ben Jarrell about my missing CD order I told him “don’t worry about it just send me the lyrics to Black Helicopter so I could sing along properly” as they weren’t available on the lyric sites yet. I’m thinking he’s probably got em on a computer somewhere (like I’m sure most artists do at this point) and copy and paste em into an email for me etc….. Nope! He wrote em out by hand and signed em. Didn’t ask a thing in return. That’s an artist that cares. Someone receiving the lyrics to their favorite song hand written and signed by the artist is very unique. I can certainly see it as niche product for a cool gift in the future.
December 19, 2019 @ 10:15 am
December 19, 2019 @ 10:14 am
I’d like one of those SCM t-shirts you have stuffed in a closet somewhere for Christmas.
December 21, 2019 @ 12:38 am
i don’t think it’s gonna happen. i’ve been begging Triggerman for years for one those t-shirts
December 19, 2019 @ 10:18 am
Jason Hawk Harris for a very affordable $35
December 19, 2019 @ 10:55 am
I got my coworker the Handwritten lyrics to “We Back’ by Aldean. I hope they treasure it forever. They told me they are going to hang it in the most appropriate room in their house… The Bathroom behind the john.
December 19, 2019 @ 11:01 am
I have ordered hand written lyrics from Caroline Spence, the song “Mint Condition”. Christmas gift for my wife 😊
December 19, 2019 @ 11:18 am
December 19, 2019 @ 3:48 pm
Alright so the Flatland Cavalry song Sober Heart Of Mine has been in my playlist after Trig put it up here and has really grown on me……….fast forward to today when I stumbled upon Kaitlin Butts’ hour long video from a couple weeks back on her Facebook page playing in their living room for Oklahoma musicians in need @Red Dirt Relief Fund and 35 minutes in Cleto sits on the couch with her and they sing the song together. Absolutely priceless and adorable to watch. You can see the hearts floating around her like a cartoon character as he sings. True love! This vid is must see!! He says he still has 75 lyric sheets to write which means he probably had a good number of orders to begin with. Sadly I missed the Cavalry here last month, damn I can’t get to every show. 🙁
December 19, 2019 @ 4:12 pm
Lydia Loveless for 50$ on her website
December 19, 2019 @ 5:52 pm
You’re right that fans want something tangible in this streaming era. The only, small problem for the artist is that their handwriting might change after writing so many. If you know someone else who has a sheet, you could compare them and the writing would probably be very different.
December 19, 2019 @ 6:21 pm
Justin Wells has been offering these on his site for awhile and you get to pick the song. Pretty cool gift idea.
December 20, 2019 @ 9:56 am
I ordered American Aquariam’s I hope he breaks your heart lyrics and highlighted YOU FUCK LIKE A WOMAN BUT YOU LOVE LIKE A LITTLE GIRL for every single one of my ex girlfriends this Christmas; I hope they like it.
December 20, 2019 @ 1:11 pm
Did they send you back Lucinda William’s Come On?
Highlighting, well, about all of it.
“You think you’re in hot demand, but you don’t know where to put your hand, you didn’t even make me……come on”
December 21, 2019 @ 5:19 pm
How’d you know that’s what they sent me?
Seeing LUCERO for the third straight night in Boston tonight. Doesn’t always fit into this genre we talk about on this website, but holy fuck can those boys go!!! Everyone do themselves a favor, and listen to TENNESSEE with some greenery and whiskey
December 20, 2019 @ 2:04 pm
I went with “White River“ by Butts, and “Drugs” and “The Devil, God, and Me” by Evan Bartels.
Last year was “Stompin Grounds” and “Humble Folks” by Flatland
Now to get them framed and find room on the walls…
December 20, 2019 @ 6:50 pm
These can be healing. Lost the love of my life to cancer, and having Mindy Smith’s “One Moment More” on the wall to read when I need it…it just helps.
December 21, 2019 @ 7:57 am
Well, I have had a head start on this trend by about 10 years…
Others that also participate in this trend are
Nate Cook – Yawpers
Sweet GA Brown
Scott H Biram
Billy Don Burns – we were prison pen pals
Just to name a few
December 21, 2019 @ 8:02 am
Bottle Rockets do it as well
December 21, 2019 @ 10:58 am
I’ve yet to get on board with this. They seemed a little pricey for a sheet of loose leaf paper. But I’m liking the idea of BDB’s “Stranger.” Or “Sailing Down the Nile.” Maybe it’s time to pry open that wallet.
January 5, 2020 @ 4:30 pm
This would make an excellent gift for the country lover! Hoe do you get the lyrics with signature?